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Comey argues Virginia should remove Confederate statues in wake of blackface controversies

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom Trump DOJ seized phone records of New York Times reporters MORE is arguing the ongoing controversy that has entangled the top state lawmakers in Virginia is an opportunity to look at "much larger and more powerful symbols of that oppression" in the state.

Comey wrote an opinion piece about recent events in Virginia that was published in The Washington Post on Thursday.

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“Every Virginia leader is responsible for the racist symbols that still loom over our lives,” he wrote, zeroing in on Confederate statues and monuments. 

“Expressing bipartisan horror at blackface photos is essential, but removing the statues would show all of America that Virginia really has changed,” Comey argued. “The statues were only about a certain kind of heritage, just as blackface was about a certain kind of storytelling. It was about hate, not history or art.”

Race has come to the forefront of Virginia politics over the past week after a photo from Gov. Ralph Northam's (D) medical school yearbook surfaced Friday, showing an image of a man in blackface and another dressed like a Ku Klux Klan member. Northam has denied being in the photo, but did admit to previously using blackface when he dressed up like Michael Jackson. Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring (D) also admitted to using blackface as a teen on Wednesday. 

Virginia lawmakers have publicly grappled with whether to remove Confederate statues in public places since a 2017 rally turned violent in Charlottesville, Va. The "Unite the Right" rally, in which many marchers expressed white supremacist views, was prompted by the planned removal of a Confederate monument. 

Comey served as FBI director until he was fired by President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE in 2017. Since then, he has strongly criticized the president. Comey lives in Virginia.